Ask Mother Nature
It all began when we started building our newest facility in Bhubaneswar – Mindtree Kalinga on a 20-acre land. The construction company had dug out mounds of earth for leveling the land and then, thousands of cubic meters more were excavated when the foundation work started. Soon they approached us to find a place where the displaced soil could be unloaded. We were told to take permission from the local authorities so that we could move the soil out, hiring trucks and then dumping them some place.
Throwing the soil was not an option for us; it simply went against our basic principle of preserving everything that nature has given to us on that plot of land. Could it not be put to some other use, or recycled, or reprocessed in some way? We asked ourselves.
Go to the Wise
We were not knowledgeable in this field but very determined to find a way. We decided it was time to call in the expert. Remember our value? Expertise-Led? We flew in Prof. M.R. Yogananda, an expert civil engineer and former professor at the Indian Institute of Sciences (a globally reputed Institute for advanced scientific and technological research), to test the soil and advise us on how best we could use it. Prof. Yogananda is well known for making compressed soil bricks. Prof. Yogananda tested the soil for chemical composition and told us that we are sitting on a veritable goldmine. 45% of the soil comprised of clay and this precious substance had the potential to feed us with all the bricks required to build Mindtree Kalinga!
When Dream meets Reality
The challenge was to ensure that we produced the bricks for our construction without converting the site into a brick factory. Further, we were not prepared to bake the bricks nor use fly ash. Many more tests and in-depth research later, we had the perfect solution. We brought in a specially fabricated, high compression brick-making machine from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. This was going to help us generate bricks effortlessly, keeping all other parameters in mind. We occupied just about 2000 square feet of space in the entire site and the brick making started. Till date, we have made and used a million magic bricks and built the entire 272,000 square feet of phase 1 of the project.
This is how it works: first all the soil is gathered at one place, then the soil is put through a pan mixer (roller machine) that powders any grains or blocks. Next, 8% volume of cement is added. The powdered soil reaches the machine through a conveyer belt and a hydraulic system to compress the soil and turns out 8 bricks a minute. The machine has a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) that uniformly measures the extent of compression required. The bricks, weigh 12 kilograms (26 pounds) each, they are stacked, cured and dried in the shade for one to three days, depending on the strength needed.
But how do we know?
We were not going to compromise on the quality of construction. So, we tested the bricks by soaking them in water for one month and exposing them to extreme temperatures that are common to this part of the world. To our delight these bricks performed significantly better than the regular baked ones. Not only that, these bricks also demonstrated their ability to act as natural insulators that keep rooms cooler in summer and warmer during winters. We knew we had created harmony with nature and the bricks would provide a strong foundation we could build our future on.
Our Future takes Shape
Zero fire. Zero smoke. Zero ash. Zero fossil fuel to transport. Zero illegal mining. Zero women and child labor. And yet, we produced over a million bricks at the construction site and today the impressive Mindtree Kalinga Center stands tall on their strength, a living example of our values.
Over millions of years, the soil has absorbed many elements to be what she is, then she has let us mold her into bricks and now she is a mesmerizing modern building, but the land is still the same.
Welcome to Possible!